The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification, or CMMC, has been a topic of conversation for a few years within the Defense Industrial Base (DIB). CMMC is a unified standard for implementing cybersecurity across the DIB, which includes over 300,000 companies in the supply chain. The CMMC is the DoD’s response to significant compromises of sensitive defense information located on contractors’ information systems. The US Department of Defense (DoD) released the much-anticipated Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) version 1.0•• on January 31, 2020. Since then, CMMC has undergone much scrutiny and discussion. Here is a timeline of CMMC:

September 2020: The CMMC program published by the DoD (now known as CMMC 1.0). This framework assesses a Defense Industrial Base (DIB) contractor’s compliance with a set of cybersecurity standards.

November 2020: A Presidential interim rule became effective, establishing a five-year phase-in period and requiring compliance with NIST 800-71 rules.

March 2021: The DoD announced an internal review of CMMC’s implementation.

November 2021: The DoD announced CMMC 2.0, and updated program and requirements designed to meet certain goals, including:

  • Protecting sensitive information to enable and protect the warfighter.
  • Dynamically enhance DIB cybersecurity to meet evolving threats.
  • Ensuring accountability while minimizing barriers to compliance with DoD requirements.
  • Contributing to a collaborative culture of cybersecurity and cyber resilience.
  • Maintaining public trust through high professional and ethical standards.

In the digital age, no territory is immune to cyber threats, including educational institutions. Use this guide to learn more about how important cybersecurity is within schools and successful ways to implement a cybersecurity strategy.

Why Is Effective Cybersecurity in Schools Essential?

The Rise of Cyberattacks in Educational Institutions

Schools have increasingly caught the attention of cybercriminals aiming to acquire sensitive information about students and faculty members. Instances of ransomware attacks have significantly interrupted the normal flow of classes. At the same time, security breaches have exposed confidential records, including identification details, health records, academic grades, and other vital information.

Alongside these challenges, there has been a noticeable uptick in phishing scams, malware, and hacking as well. Safeguarding against these threats underscores the utmost importance of cybersecurity measures.

Protecting Confidential Data

Schools gather vast amounts of confidential student data, including date of birth, social security numbers, home addresses, academic records, disciplinary history, medical conditions, and more. This data can be exploited for identity theft, blackmail, stalking, and harassment. As such, proper cybersecurity controls are vital.

Ensuring Digital Safety for Students

With the rise of regular internet and computer usage in education, students are prone to online risks like cyberbullying, predators, inappropriate content, and privacy violations. And in a post-pandemic world where remote learning is commonplace, students, staff, and faculty having a sense of cybersecurity awareness and online vigilance is crucial for maintaining everyone’s digital safety and well-being.

Is My Current Cyber Defense Up to Par?

If you’re concerned about your school’s cybersecurity readiness, there are key indicators that signal that your current defense system might not be up to par. First, if you’ve experienced multiple instances of unauthorized access, data breaches, or disruptions in digital services, it’s a clear red flag. Additionally, a lack of regular security updates and patches, coupled with inadequate staff training on cybersecurity best practices, could leave your institution vulnerable.

Pay attention to any inconsistencies in implementing security protocols and the absence of a comprehensive incident response plan. If you notice these signs, taking proactive steps to assess and enhance your school’s cybersecurity measures is crucial.

How to Implement Better Cybersecurity Measures in Schools

Highlight the Importance of Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity training through programs and workshops should be conducted regularly to educate staff and students on safe online behavior, privacy protection, password management, phishing identification, and incident reporting. This develops a security-first culture.

Invest in Reliable Tools

Schools should invest in proven security solutions like firewalls, antivirus/malware software, backup systems, encryption programs, network monitors, access controls, and vulnerability scanners. Expert guidance is recommended for selection and deployment. Regularly updating software and patching vulnerabilities also reduces a school’s attack surface. Planning and practice for potential incidents improves response when breaches occur.

Prioritize Using Existing Security Measures

To better protect themselves, schools need to assess their existing security measures and make necessary upgrades. Steps like segmenting networks, multifactor authentication, and endpoint detection systems make exploitation harder.

Schools should also ensure they have ample bandwidth to handle day-to-day traffic and redundancy if networks go down. Establishing clear and effective guidelines for technology usage, bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies, access permissions, incident reporting procedures, and data management practices is extremely important.

At Braxton-Grant Technologies, we offer 24/7 real-time cybersecurity monitoring to keep your network safe from threats.

How a Managed Service Provider Can Help

Managed service providers specialize in delivering IT solutions and services, including cybersecurity, to businesses and organizations. In the context of schools, MSPs offer several advantages:

1. Expertise and Resources

MSPs have a team of cybersecurity experts with in-depth knowledge of the evolving threat landscape. They possess the resources and tools needed to deploy advanced security measures that may be challenging for schools to implement independently.

2. 24/7 Monitoring and Support

Cyber threats don’t adhere to a schedule, so continuous monitoring and support are crucial. MSPs can provide around-the-clock monitoring, identifying and mitigating potential threats in real-time.

3. Customized Solutions

Every educational institution has unique security requirements. MSPs can tailor their services to address schools’ specific needs and budget constraints, ensuring a cost-effective yet comprehensive approach to cybersecurity.

4. Proactive Approach

MSPs take a proactive stance on cybersecurity, anticipating potential threats and implementing preventive measures. This approach reduces the likelihood of successful cyberattacks.

5. Compliance and Regulations

Educational institutions are subject to various data protection regulations, such as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). MSPs are well-versed in these regulations and can help schools achieve and maintain compliance.

6. Scalability

As schools grow and their technology needs evolve, MSPs can scale their services accordingly, ensuring that cybersecurity measures remain robust and effective.

Key Takeaways

  • In a digital era where cyber threats are becoming increasingly sophisticated, safeguarding educational institutions from cyberattacks is paramount.
  • By implementing a combination of effective strategies, including clear policies, training programs, network security measures, and incident response plans, schools can significantly reduce their vulnerability to cyber incidents.
  • Partnering with a managed service provider equips schools with the expertise, resources, and proactive approach needed to navigate the complex cybersecurity landscape, ensuring a secure environment for students, faculty, and staff to thrive in the digital age.

Protect Your Institution With Braxton-Grant Technologies

Don’t let cybersecurity concerns hold you back from embracing technology in the classroom. Our practical and expandable cyber-safe solutions are designed to protect your educational environment, no matter the learning environment.

Learn more about our secure solutions and contact us today.